Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Drama Desk Scandal Blows Wide Open

When Tom O'Neill of the Los Angeles Times interviewed me for an investigative piece on the dirty doings at the Drama Desk, I didn't anticipate it would be even nearly as comprehensive and as stunning as what Tom published yesterday.

First, here is the link to the article. Check out the first four graphs -- and just consider the fact that the piece runs nearly 3,000 words.

On the eve of its awards being presented this Sunday, the Drama Desk is engulfed in a growing scandal that erupted following the resignation of a member who was booted from the nominating committee.

Initially, president William Wolf pooh-poohed "the total nonsense and patently false" charges made by Tony Phillips of Edge Publications against Barbara Siegel, chair of the nominating committee, as "the biased and disgruntled rant" of someone who'd been fired, but now other prominent members of the Drama Desk have not only substantiated some of Phillips' charges, but evidence has emerged that Wolf may also be guilty of one of the most serious allegations against Siegel — bullying nominators into changing a legitimate award nomination that he didn't like.

Wolf and Siegel hold leadership roles of dubious legality since neither may technically qualify for membership in the Drama Desk organization. In the past few days Wolf — whose media outlet is his own website, — revealed that old bylaws are still in effect that don't recognize Internet writers. Siegel's media credentials are and Also in question is the legality and authenticity of this weekend's awards, which were voted upon by the many Internet-only writers in the Drama Desk.

Several prominent members describe Wolf and Siegel as kingpins of an entrenched leadership that rules forcibly, hides scandals and key issues from the general membership, and makes it difficult for rivals to become officers or members of its board of directors. Among controversies they're accused of hushing up: Last year there was such serious dissent over management of the nominating committee that two of its six members resigned in protest just a few weeks before nominations were to be decided.

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